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Bulgaria: Protests Against Forest Act in Sofia

This week, Bulgaria's capital Sofia was blocked for two days, June 13 and 14, due to the unsanctioned protests against the modification of the vague Forest Act, known as the “Amendments ‘Vitosha ski’” because the changes were made allegedly ​​under pressure from the company that owns ski resorts on Vitosha Mountain near Sofia. Around 5,000 people (2,000 on the first day and 3,000 on the second) took part in the protests.

The Forest Act already permits installation of certain skiing facilities and equipment without changing the status of the land. Many people think that the “oligarchs,” with their lobbies in the Parliament, want these lands for private use.

Environmental activists and other people self-organize with the help of Facebook [bg], Twitter, and text messages.

June 13, the first day of the protests, was the birthday of the Bulgarian PM Boiko Borisov, suspected to have ties with the “oligarchs.”

Bulgarian journalist Ivan Bedrov wrote “Happy birthday, dear Boiko” on his blog [bg], posting a video from the June 13 rally:

Doraid al Hafid, an activist and member of the Association of European Journalists – Bulgaria, posted this photo from the June 13 rally on his Facebook page:

Down with Boiko!

The police arrested the total of 24 people in the two days of the protests, and three people were reported injured.

Below is a video recorded by the author of this post, showing the beginning of the arrests on June 13:

After the June 14 rally, the people spontaneously set off for the President's office building. This video shows heavy police presence:

More videos from the protests are here and here.

Facebook page “Occupy Bulgaria” (with more than 14,000 members) posted 44 photos from the June 14 protest.

There is a petition on Avaaz: “Call Bulgaria's president to veto the new Forests Act and end unscrupulous Government aid to oligarchs”.

The third protest is scheduled to take place today, on June 15. The Facebook event [bg] for it is titled “Block Orlov Bridge III.”

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